The snake is one of the most archetypal symbols, a universal sign of healing, life, death, and rebirth. It is the epitome of transformation, and though often seen as a symbol of death, we forget that death is part of a larger cycle that includes rebirth.
Death in the TAROT, especially when depicted as a snake, does NOT in any way, shape, or form imply a physical death. However, it does indicate a transition, a shedding of the old so a new can be born, reflecting a kind of resurrection at play within our lives.
Snakes are amazing reptiles. From the moment they are born till the moment they die, they never stop growing. This is why they shed their skin; they’ve outgrown it. The snake’s shedding of skin reminds us that periodically we must shed what no longer fits or suits us. This cycle of death and rebirth, reflected in the shedding of skin, is often symbolized by the ouroborus, the ancient image of the snake swallowing its own tail, the symbol of the eternal cycle.
Before snakes shed their skin, the eyes cloud over, giving the snake a trancelike appearance. To ancient shamans, this indicated the ability of the snake to move between the realms of the living and the dead. When snake appears in our lives, it often reflects opening to new realms and awakening spirit contact. Like the snakes, these new realms and new spirit contacts often first raise their heads up during dreams.
Although snakes have two eyes, they do not see very well, relying on their sensitivity to vibrations and to smell. Do you trust what you see; trust what you feel? You will feel the changes arriving before actually recognizing them.
Snakes are also symbols of change and healing. They have speed and agility, so when snake comes into our life, the changes and transitions occur quickly and are soon recognized. Release any fears and do not resist the changes because they bring with them new expressions of creativity, wisdom and strength. When snake appears, we will find opportunities for shedding the old and resurrecting some part of our life.
Photograph taken 7/29/2009 of a Western Rattlesnake after sunset with a flashlight, so that he may be dispatched elsewhere, unfortunately – with respect and reverance (he was a little too aggressive) he was killed, obviously not before this shot, just outside our front door.